HE SAYS: On the second day of our wine travels in Mendoza, we drove down to the Uco Valley. It was about a one hour drive from our lodge, part of it over some rolling hills.
The Uco Valley is higher elevation – the snow-capped Andes Mountains tower right there to the West. It is the highest altitude of the growing regions in Mendoza, and the area is more undeveloped so that seems to be where most of the new vineyard and winery expansion is occurring. Andeluna (meaning Andes moon) is a beautiful new winery, built by H. Ward Lay, of the Lay potato chip family. It took about five years to build this winery, but they did a fantastic job creating a contemporary version of an old Argentina ranch (estancia).
Their winemaker, Silvio Alberto, was named “outstanding young winemaker of the year,” and he crafts the wines, and gets input from famed consulting enologist Michel Rolland.
Andeluna does charge for touring and tasting, but we got a great private tour from Gisela, a very personable young lady. Outside in the vineyard she explained how they manage the vines to have a specific number of spurs and clusters, and then how they go through and thin the clusters by 60-70% to concentrate the flavors in the grapes that do remain. I had the giant tasting room all to myself, as my wife thought 10:30 in the morning is too early to drink wine. Nonsense!
SHE SAYS: Shall we be accurate? I was in the tasting room, too. You were just in a world of your own and forgot I was there. And pretty cute you were, too.
2007 Andeluna Cellars Winemaker’s Selection Torrontés
HE SAYS: This was my first chance in Argentina to taste a Torrontés, which is the only wine considered to be 100% Argentinian. I really enjoyed this wine, which reminds me of a cross between a viognier and sauvignon blanc. The Andeluna Torrontés had nice fragrant nose and yet was very crisp and clean with grapefruit and tropical fruit flavors. This wine, with grapes from the Tupungato area, didn’t see any oak, and was very nicely balanced – a terrific food wine. 15 SHE SAYS: 10:30 in the morning is too early to drink wine.
2005 Andeluna Cellars Reserve Chardonnay –
HE SAYS: Half of the wine was aged for a year in American and French oak, while the rest stayed in stainless steel. This chardonnay had a nice, clear golden color and honeysuckle nose. It was nice and clean with a touch of oak amongst the citrus and vanilla flavors. It still had enough acid to go with food. Very tasty. 15+ SHE SAYS: Thx for the coffee.
2005 Andeluna Cellars Reserve Merlot –
HE SAYS: This was a very nice Merlot, with a deep and dark rose nose. It was soft, with dark berry and touches of cinnamon and cocoa flavors. It had a good body and nice balance, with the fruit emerging from the medium tannins. It was aged for a year in French (80%) and American (20%) oak, then aged six more months in the bottle. I suggest aging it another 3-5 years. 15
SHE SAYS: 10:45 in the morning is still too early for wine.
2005 Andeluna Cellars Reserve Malbec–
HE SAYS: Great purple color on this Malbec. It was dryer than the Merlot, with earthy berry and cherry flavors. Nice finish, but medium high tannins masked the fruit somewhat. 15
SHE SAYS: I love you, Malbec – but even 11:00 in the morning is too early.
2004 Andeluna Cellars Reserve Cabernet –
HE SAYS: This is a big wine, but the tannins were so strong that much of the fruit was masked. There were chocolate essences to it, but it definitely needs more bottle time to soften the tannins and let the flavors emerge. Hard to figure out at the moment. 14+
SHE SAYS: Ok, Ok, I’ll try it. :-*/ !*! I was right. It’s just too early.
2003 Andeluna Cellars Grand Reserve Pasionada –
HE SAYS: A terrific Bordeaux-style blend, comprised of 35% Merlot, 35% Cab; 20% Malbec and 10% Cab Franc. (The proportions change each year, depending on the quality of the grape. In contrast, the ’04 is 49% Malbec, 26% Merlot, 17% Cab and 8% Cab Franc.) The wine was aged in new French (85%) and American (15%) oak for 18 months, and then aged for 8 more months in the bottle. This was a truly terrific and elegant wine, with great full flavors of cherry and berry and a touch of cocoa. The tannins were medium, so it could sit for a bit. By far, it was the best of the red wines by Andeluna and is worth seeking out. 16+
SHE SAYS: I believe you.